Bob Pease, chief executive/president of the Brewers Association — the not-for-profit trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers — looks back at the highlights of 2019 and what’s in store for 2020.


It’s been a busy time for the American craft brewing industry, and as one year ends and a new one begins, I want to highlight a few achievements over the last 12 months.

American craft brewing production grew in 2019 against a market that became more competitive. Having said that, 4% overall growth for small and independent craft brewers again seems likely for 2019 (slightly down from 5% in 2018).

Numbers are still being compiled, but it’s looking like more than 8,000 American breweries operated in 2019 — a record number for the United States. At the same time, the competitive market led to more closures. An estimated 300 breweries shut their doors in 2019.

The UK is the second largest export market after Canada and accounts for 16.6% of all global American craft beer exports. Demand for full-flavoured, world-class quality American craft beer remains strong, despite the dynamic domestic beer market. American craft brewers are continuing to innovate and adapt to evolving consumer lifestyles, tastes and occasions.

More than 4,700 brewing companies have adopted the Independent Craft Brewer Seal, representing nearly 80% of craft beer brewed in the United States. Introduced in 2017, the seal identifies truly independent craft brewers from formerly small and independent breweries who have been acquired by global brewing companies. It’s a simple way to provide clarity.

We even launched two new national holidays last year — National Independent Beer Run Day, on July 3, and Small Brewery Sunday, on December 1, to encourage beer lovers to celebrate and support America’s small and independent craft brewers.

Brewers Assoc glasses

To promote a more diverse and inclusive craft beer community, the Brewers Association awarded its inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Event Grants to six local and regional events across the US that intentionally promoted and fostered a more diverse and inclusive craft beer community. By helping to support such events we can foster growth and stimulate a cultural shift towards beer. A second year of grants will be available in 2020.

American craft beer has driven tremendous job growth, and the Brewers Association’s Economic Impact Report shows that craft brewers contributed $79.1 million to the US economy in 2018, a 4% increase on 2017. Craft brewers were responsible for more than 550,000 full-time jobs — an 11% increase on 2017 — with 150,000 of those jobs directly at breweries and brewpubs.

We have been instrumental in moving forward a piece of legislation called the Craft Beverage Modernisation and Tax Reform Act, that seeks to permanently recalibrate the federal excise tax for the nation’s brewers, and reform burdensome laws regulating America’s brewing industry.

So what does 2020 hold? A more competitive marketplace than ever before, an increase in brewery openings (and some closures), and continual ground-breaking innovation from American craft brewers to create new and sought-after beers, as well as continuing to perfect classic styles.

Don’t forget that early bird registration for the Craft Brewers Conference, in San Antonio, Texas, from April 19 to 22, is now open through to February 6. There’s more info and registration details at craftbrewersconference.com/

And if you’re a keen beer and food lover, we offer SAVOR, An American Craft Beer and Food Experience, in Washington DC on May 15. Tickets go on sale on February 19 at savorcraftbeer.com/

About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts.

The BA represents 4,000-plus US breweries. The BA’s independent craft brewer seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers.

The BA organises events including the World Beer Cup, Great American Beer Festival, Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America, SAVOR: An American Craft Beer and Food Experience, Homebrew Con, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week.

The BA publishes The New Brewer magazine, and Brewers Publications is the largest publisher of brewing literature in the US.

Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at CraftBeer.com and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association and the free Brew Guru mobile app.

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